I start work wearing a jacket but rapidly shed it as I battle with the brambles that have invaded the bank which borders the cottage lawn and descends to Monsieur F's field.
Last summer Phoebe and I dug out builders rubble, shifted earth and shaped ledges on the side of the bank ready for planting. But apart from a few tired irises and some wild mallow that I'm tolerating, I never completed the planting and the brambles crept back, their long tendrils running through and over the grass tussocks. No good just cutting them back again. This time I've got to dig them out.
Vita joins me, catlike, motionless with one paw raised and nose quivering as she waits for tiny furry things to move in the grass below the tall stems of the fat hen that we have left to die back - a haven for small birds and beasts and a hunting ground for hawks as well as Airedales.
I bring out my hot drink and sandwich and sit with my back to the cottage wall, squinting in the sun as I try to read. Vita, having had no success with her hunting, thinks it would be good if I share my lunch.